The Best Pillow for Neck Pain

It’s tough to figure out which is the best pillow to relieve neck pain. With many factors to take into consideration, I did my own research to find the best solutions for you.

A good night’s sleep can be evasive with the wrong pillow. Even if you manage to fall asleep, sometimes you are woken up by the pain without the proper support.

My best advice is that you choose a pillow that keeps your spine in a natural and neutral position throughout the night. You never want your neck bent in any direction: head forward, head back, or tilted.

Figuring out which type of pillow is best for you…starts with you knowing your sleep positions. Are you a back sleeper, side sleeper, or stomach sleeper?

Do You Sleep On Your Stomach?

Some experts state that sleep positions don’t matter if you have the right pillow. True…for the most part…except stomach sleeping.

As head and neck doctors, we never recommend stomach sleeping. We have found over the years that sleeping on your stomach is one of the most detrimental things you can do to your head, neck and spine. Consider it a micro-trauma. Over and over again, night after night, you torque your neck when you sleep on your stomach. This puts a tremendous amount of pressure on the upper neck potentially creating health problems. Plus, you don’t hold your adjustments as well when you sleep on your stomach making it difficult to stay in alignment.

Stomach sleepers must turn their head to one side to be able to breathe. Over time, this stresses the neck muscles, causing chronic neck pain and stiffness. It’s a hard habit to break it, but your health is worth it.

Do You Sleep On Your Side?

We endorse side sleeping. Keep in mind that pillow height is critical when you sleep on your side though. It’s important that your spine remain in a neutral position and that your head isn’t kinked to one side. Your pillow can either be too thin, and your head collapses and doesn’t have enough support and kinks towards the mattress. Or your pillow can be too thick providing too much support, and your head is kinked away from the mattress. Neither is good, so having the appropriate height pillow is very important in order to keep your head and neck in a neutral position.

Side sleeping is healthy and an alternative to sleeping on your back. My choice for the best pillow for side sleepers is below…

Do You Sleep on Your Back?

Sleeping on your back is the healthiest position for your spine. This position also requires the most flat type of pillow. Make sure your shoulders are not on your pillow, as this may jam your shoulder joints. Make sure you don’t sleep on a thick pillow or a stack of pillows, as this puts unnecessary pressure on your neck all night long. Down pillows work for most people sleeping on their back, as the feathers naturally flatten. However, as soon as you turn on your side, down pillows tend to be too flat and provide zero support for side sleeping.

Over the years I have found that for patients with degenerative changes in their neck, down pillows do not provide sufficient support, and an orthopedic pillow is best.

What I Recommend: Best Pillow

I happen to have a very sensitive neck. So….I have personally tested dozens upon dozens of pillows. Cheap, expensive, foam, feathers, polyester…you name it. There’s been much trial and error. At one point I even started developing rotator cuff issues because of my choice of pillow. I switched to a down pillow for a couple of months, and my body screamed at me. Sound extreme…it was…and very painful…but, it’s 100% true. I have degenerative changes from old whiplash injuries, and honestly don’t know where I would be without the type of care that we offer.

However, we spend many hours in bed, day after day, and having the proper support for those hours is critical. So, I decided to take the advice of many upper cervical doctors and try out the Therapeutica pillow recently. When I first started using it, I woke up often. I didn’t like that part. However, that only lasted for a few days. It’s not fluffy and yummy like I usually like my pillows, but I have gotten the hang of it. Therapeutica is a soft foam pillow that needs to be measured for your body size. It’s an orthopedic pillow that comes in 5 sizes, and is available on Amazon.

We considered carrying it in-house, but decided against it due to return issues, etc. (especially during times of C-19!). If you are interested in trying it out, we can size you and you can purchase it on your own. Just come in and ask us when you are in the office.

For now, this is the best pillow that I have found for neck pain, shoulder pain, or lingering whiplash symptoms…even if under excellent chiropractic care.

If you do happen to try a Therapeutica pillow, let me know your thoughts.

Don’t wait to feel paralyzed with neck pain, give us a call to schedule a consultation.


Dr. Jeanett Tapia

Gentle NUCCA Chiropractors

Intouch Chiropractic | San Diego, CA (619) 756-7510

How We Help

Did you know that NUCCA helps treat neck pain? Call our office at (619) 756-7510 for help with your postureneck pain or back pain.

Does curiosity have you researching all sorts of topics? Check out some interesting articles below:

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